Pickles and ice cream, fried Oreos dipped in ranch dressing, bacon-wrapped caramels...none of these odd culinary delights are given a second thought if the person consuming them has another person growing inside of them. People just shrug and say, “Oh, she’s pregnant.”
But what if the weird gets even weirder?
Check this out: Pregnant women not only have weird food cravings but can also get cravings for things that aren’t food—like dirt and chalk. Pica is the “practice of craving substances with little or no nutritional value.” The term comes from a Latin word for a magpie—a bird that’s known to eat almost anything.
Picas are often seen in kids, and no one really knows why some women develop these cravings during pregnancy. Doctors think it may be connected to iron or other mineral and vitamin deficiencies—or that it may be related to a physical or mental illness.
Regardless of the reason, these cravings are real. Here are the top 14!
Walk by a construction site and take a big whiff. That dirty, moist smell is one that drives pregnant women crazy!
Many women claim to loiter near construction sites to take in the scents, and some have even admitted to waiting for a good rain and then restraining themselves from running outside and licking the sidewalks.
Dirt and clay are two of the most common of cravings during pregnancy. So much so that in some cultures, the craving or eating of dirt is one of the telltale signs of pregnancy (second to morning sickness).
As many as 56 percent of pregnant women have admitted to wanting to eat dirt or clay, and they’re in good company because Britney Spears has also said she's craved it. Think we’re kidding? There is a shop in White Plains, Georgia, that caters to this dirt-loving crowd and boasts daily sales of “geophagic earth” (or kaolin).
Some pregnant women rush to the refrigerator not for leftovers but for one of the favorite weird cravings of those with child: ice. It’s so common that it’s got it’s own name, pagophagia.
Some studies have shown a connection between an ice pica and mineral deficiencies. The conclusions revealed that one-fifth of pregnant women craved ice because of the baby drawing extra iron from their blood.
Eating ice is one of the most harmless of pica cravings (and actually can be hydrating!), but doctors caution pregnant women to watch how much they rely on it. Ice has no nutrients and shouldn’t be substituted for healthy meals.
Many pregnant women quietly admit to have been pulled out of a cold fire pit in their quest to consume burned wood charcoal. Why?
Apparently charcoal is a huge pica hit among women who are with child. Experts recommend that even though some pica cravings are safe to satisfy, this one remains on the “to-don’t” list.
A parenting website in the U.K. surveyed more than 2,000 women, and chalk (along with talcum powder) made the top 10 list of most popular pregnancy cravings. Oddly, some pregnant women often fantasize about chewing on sticks of sidewalk chalk or sprinkling talcum powder on their meals.
Although there are nontoxic types of chalk on the market, experts don’t recommend snacking on them. What they do suggest, though, is popping one or two Tums tablets to help satisfy any cravings for a chalky flavor.
After charcoal and chalk, the craving for toothpaste comes as a sweet surprise! Pregnant women who crave toothpaste aren’t known to squirt tubes of the stuff in their mouths, but often eat or swallow a bit when they’re brushing their teeth.
There are no known side effects of swallowing a little more than your share of toothpaste (and on a positive note teeth become super pearly), but experts recommend not using it as a daily snack.
This craving actually makes sense! Sponges are soft and springy and probably feel a lot like gum in your mouth. Pregnant women have been known to periodically give in to this nontoxic craving by chewing on a couple of corners of a sponge while passing the sink.
It’s deemed by experts as an okay craving to indulge, but only if it’s a clean, unused sponge and only chewed—not consumed.
The smell of tobacco smoke is quite pleasing to some (judging by the tobacco-scented air fresheners and candles on the market), but the craving to eat the ash produced by burning tobacco can come as a shock to others. It may be weird, but the truth is that it’s pretty normal among pregnant women.
The American Pregnancy Association cites that next to ice, tobacco ashes are one of the most common pica cravings. Many a pregnant woman has been caught or dipping her finger in a pile of ashes.
Liquid paint, spray paint, paint chips...nothing is safe from the odd hunger pangs of the pregnant woman. The smell is intoxicating enough for them to want to lick a freshly painted wall, chew on some chips, or just down a gallon of their favorite shade.
As tempting as it may be, indulging in this craving is not only toxic but can result in deadly lead poisoning. It’s best to avoid this craving at all costs. Instead get your hands on some gum or other chewable substance.
Like those sweet-smelling peanuts that they sell out of carts in the park, laundry detergent may smell heavenly, but the taste is vile. That doesn’t stop pregnant women from sneaking little bites of it to satisfy their intense yearnings for it, however.
Detergent is an unnatural chemical substance that can be super toxic to mom and baby, so do whatever you can to fight this urge.
Many women who normally detest the taste of coffee have reported craving the heck out of it while they’re pregnant. Oddly enough, they don’t want to drink said coffee. Instead they report wanting to chew the grounds or the beans.
This is clearly linked to some mineral or vitamin deficiency, and doctors warn that eating the grounds of a partner’s morning cup may leave a pregnant woman feeling jittery (and often with black specks between her teeth). In truth, although craving these ground beans is weird, aside from the jolt, there’s really nothing wrong with eating coffee remains.
Life’s not exactly a beach for pregnant women who crave sand. Some women admit to having been tempted to dip their sandwiches or snacks in sand to satisfy their intense desire for the relatively nontoxic earth particles.
Although eating sand isn’t necessarily poisonous, pregnant women should be forewarned that eating too much of it can do a number on the enamel of their teeth (never mind their gastrointestinal systems). Plus there's all kinds of gross stuff on a beach. Give this one a pass.
Ever notice a woman leaning over and sniffing the tires on her car? She might be expecting! Many pregnant women love the smell and crave the taste of rubber, and as with several of these other picas, this is believed to be related to an iron deficiency.
Although it’s not particularly healthy or sanitary to be licking tires in the mall parking lot, it’s suggested that if one gets the urge to consume rubber items, chewing on a clean new rubber band may help keep the cravings at bay!
The smell that comes from the pump while one puts gas in a car is cited as being euphoric to some pregnant women, who admit that they often do all they can to stifle their urge to suck down a gallon or two.
As you can imagine, gas is not on the list of cravings that experts recommend giving in to. Even though the smell of it may be intoxicating to someone with child, unfortunately, it’s completely poisonous and can do serious harm to mom and baby. Ingesting it is not even a question.